Business Telephone Systems: Modern telephone systems for businesses offer so much more than simply a way of making and receiving calls to and from clients. Whatever size business you may have, you must have the ability to make video calls, conference calls, real time monitoring and possibly interactive voice response messaging in your communications armoury. But knowing which integrated phone system to use or which telephone system service to subscribe to is a difficult decision to make.
Traditional telephone systems are simple, efficient and can be matched to your business requirements. An on-site telephony solution provides your company with a Private Branch Exchange (PBX), basically a private telephone network, to allow your employees to communicate internally between each other, and externally to outside agencies.
Internal calls are free to make through a PBX, whilst external calls can be routed over analogue lines leased from a telephone company (Public Switched Telephone Network - PSTN), via a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Gateway, or ISDN/ASDN.
Of course, if you run a small business with only a few employees a physical PBX may not be the most cost effective solution for you. Using cloud based technology you could use a hosted virtual PBX solution, which could be a better option. Many communication companies provide a "free" version of a virtual PBX for small businesses. These free solutions may not come with full functionality, or only last for a short trial however, so be careful of checking the specifications before signing up for anything.
Beware of a company offering a free virtual PBX, yet you pay for hosting, as the more traffic is used, the more you will pay. It is advisable to opt for a paid professional provider which can supply your business with the full enterprise functionality you require, plus have areas you can expand upon should it be necessary.
With an unlimited internet connection at your premises you can opt for the most cost effective solution; VoIP.
What Does VoIP Stand For? - VoIP stands for "Voice Over Internet Protocol" and is a system that was developed during the late 1990s by a company called VocalTec, primarily to save on the costs of making long distance and international phone calls.
A VoIP solution uses your data connection to make and receive voice and video calls. Hardware and software is available to expand business VoIP technologies and provide valuable options such as;
- Monitoring and recording of calls
- Live website communications
- Voicemail and message retrieval
- Instant messaging
- Conference or multi user video calls
- Call forwarding
For remote workers, a stable VoIP platform allows them to seamlessly and freely integrate with other employees, wherever they are based. All that is required is a laptop, internet connection and a headset with microphone. VoIP also allows clients and customers to talk directly and instantly to you at no cost to themselves, as long as they have an internet connection. With an optimised business VoIP telephone system your company's computers become your communications hub.
VoIP software can also include useful business features which are normally charged for by telecommunication providers. Caller ID, automatic call forwarding and auto redial are all standard on many business VoIP packages. The ability to add telephone lines at no cost as employee numbers increase is also a huge benefit, as well as the ability to integrate with existing IT and telecommunication devices with inexpensive routing equipment.
VoIP does have some disadvantages however. If your business is in an area of low data speeds for internet or has a poor connection, it will affect the quality of any calls. In business terms it is best to use a dedicated data connection for any VoIP communication. Standalone VoIP systems have also been found in the past to be vulnerable to Dedicated Denial of Service (DDOS) cyber attacks. Criminals have held larger companies to ransom by flooding their VoIP communications with messages and calls, overwhelming the system and causing genuine customer communications to fail. There are excellent security packages on offer to prevent this from happening, but it's advisable to have a secondary form of communications for your business on top of VoIP.
Using a Dedicated UK Telephone Services Company
Digital communications have opened the door for professional telephone and communication companies to provide cost effective solutions for any size business. From a one man start-up to a massive conglomerate, there is a business telephony service for you.
Small business may benefit from a hosted service, where an external company takes call from your clients and passes messages on to your via telephone, SMS or e-mail. This type of service allows you to concentrate on the hands-on side of your business and not be distracted by telephone calls and messages as you work. Hosted services also means there is someone to answer your company phone or website during working hours, or 24/7 if that is an option you require. Important calls and clients can be instantly forwarded to your own phone using a hosted telephone service wherever you are, from the workshop to the golf course.
Medium to large sized businesses can take advantage of a reliable and secure telephone system and messaging service set up by a professional company. They will seamlessly integrate your existing infrastructure with a communication strategy that suits you. You could opt for voicemail and faxes being sent directly to your e-mail inbox or perhaps call forwarding setup for different individuals or departments depending on caller ID. A professional company will also be able to set up an Individual Voice Response (IVR) service for callers to your company switchboard, so that their response or key presses connect them with the relevant department for their needs. IVR is also a great way to get your company message across whilst a caller is waiting for connection to one of your team.
Measuring employee productivity is a great tool for any company, and if your day to day business involves telephone working, such as a call centre, or customer service office, call reporting can offer fruitful insights. Call reporting is also a useful tool in educating your workforce on the most efficient method of using the communications technology at their fingertips. It can provide real time metric and information to your team to help them deliver a first class service to your clients.
When a good telephone and communication service is linked with CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software it can all come together to improve customer relationships, drive sales and increase profitability. CRM software integrates with your communication systems to provide customer's contact details, recent orders or enquiries, and even social media to create a complete picture of each customer. This information can be used for specific ad campaigns, follow up phone calls and helps to build a better relationship between you, and your customers.
A reputable telephone system service company will provide you with advice depending on your business needs. The solutions on offer will fit a wide range of budgets and provide a way to help any business increase productivity. A good company will also be able to provide training for your staff on any new equipment and offer a help desk for any questions or queries you may have.
When looking for a new telephone system for your company, enquire about future system upgrades as technology advances. Older equipment may be less expensive at the moment, but if it cannot be integrated into newer systems it will cost you a lot more if you have to replace it a few years down the line.
Whatever system your business needs, be it traditional or cloud based hosting, there is a solution that will keep your company at the forefront of communication technology.
What are Examples of Telephone Systems?
Telephone systems have evolved significantly over the years, offering various technologies and features. Here are some examples of telephone systems:
- Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS): Also known as landline phones, POTS is the traditional telephone system that uses copper wires to transmit voice signals. It is a basic system that provides voice communication without any additional features.
- Private Branch Exchange (PBX): PBX systems are commonly used in businesses and organizations. They allow internal calls within an organization and provide additional features such as call routing, call forwarding, voicemail, and conferencing.
- Key Telephone System (KTS): KTS is a type of telephone system that uses physical keys to select different phone lines or extensions. It is commonly used in small to medium-sized businesses and offers features like hold, transfer, and conference calling.
- Centrex: Centrex is a telephone system where the switching equipment is located in the telephone company's central office instead of on-site in a business. It provides businesses with advanced features similar to a PBX without the need for dedicated equipment.
- Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP): VoIP is a technology that enables voice communication over the internet. It converts analog voice signals into digital data and transmits it over IP networks. VoIP systems can be used with physical IP phones or softphones (software-based phones) installed on computers or mobile devices.
- Unified Communications (UC): UC systems integrate various communication channels, including voice, video, messaging, and collaboration tools. They provide seamless communication and collaboration across different devices and platforms.
- Virtual Phone Systems: Virtual phone systems are cloud-based telephone systems that offer features similar to traditional PBX systems. They are highly flexible and scalable, allowing businesses to manage calls and communications from anywhere using internet-connected devices.
- Mobile Phone Systems: Mobile phone systems utilize cellular networks to provide wireless voice communication. They offer a wide range of features and functionalities beyond voice calls, including text messaging, internet access, mobile apps, and more.
These are just a few examples of telephone systems, and there are many variations and hybrid systems available in the market today. The choice of a telephone system depends on the specific needs and requirements of an individual or organization.
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